the watercolors he brought back from wyoming, the first color images of yellowstone, played a key role in the creation of the national parks system. yellowstone had long been familiar to american indians, mountainmen, traders and travelers. legendary, seemingly unbelievable stories made their way east. the canyon was said to be a "fearful chasm," the river a "frightful torrent," the sulfur springs wre "diabolical," the place where "hell bubbled up." while the eruption of old faithful was said to be "the most magnificent sight ever witnessed." in 1870, a group of private citizens from montana led by henry washburn, had ventured into yellowstone to see if these stories were true.